3 Ideas to Improve (Almost) Any Fundraising Activity
A few days ago, I attended a fundraising event. Frankly, it was very enjoyable — an interesting, unique way to spend an evening. Food, good conversation, a clear presentation of the offer ...
And yet, it was about as far away from the typical fundraising event I have been to as it could be. And that was good — because it worked.
There were three specific things I observed at the event that I believe can help almost any fundraising effort — whether online, in the mail or in person.
First, the audience was selected specifically for this event. It wasn't "one size fits all." The venue was smaller and not centrally located — on purpose. The donors invited were those who were giving at a high level and prospects for more significant gifts who lived in the vicinity of the event's location. No one had to contemplate driving halfway across town at rush hour to attend a large event where they may feel almost anonymous. Rather, they stopped off for dinner with friends and a unique program on their way home from work.
For direct mail, e-appeals and events, we often throw too much energy into one big thing — and hope if we cast the net far enough, we'll get the results we need. While that's more efficient in many cases, the smaller, more intimate event can allow more one-on-one interaction (or at least copy that feels like it's directed to the recipient, not the world in general). Sure, this isn't always practical, but it's worth considering if communicating more specifically to many smaller segments — even with just a few paragraphs, a headline or a photo — will ultimately provide a better return on investment.
Secondly, the theme fit the event and the audience, and frankly, it was fun. No, we can't always have fun with our causes, especially when we are dealing with life-and-death issues. But busy people have to select from many options of where to use their time, and reading an email or letter or attending an event has to be more appealing than every other competing option.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.